Red Hot Chili Peppers stepped up to replace Foo Fighters at this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival following the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, but Hawkins’ absence at the event won’t go unnoticed. RHCP drummer Chad Smith said the band plans to honor their late friend during their set, and will even bring Hawkins’ wife, Alison, along to the festival.
“It’s going to be a celebration,” Smith told Billboard. “That’s what she wants. She doesn’t want it to be anything other than, ‘Let’s celebrate music, let’s celebrate our friends, let’s celebrate Taylor. This is what he would want and he would be very happy that you guys are playing and he would want it be nothing but a positive experience.’ So we’re going to do all that and she’s going to be part of that and I’m very honored that we can do that with her. … We’re going to play our hearts out.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers and Foo Fighters have been friends for years (the Foos even opened for RHCP on their Californication tour way back in 1999), and as fellow drummers, Smith and Hawkins were especially close. Smith was one of many stars to mourn the musician on social media following his shocking death, posting a video montage of the two hanging out over the years. It’s easy to see how two talented, goofball musicians would feed off each other’s energy, and while Hawkins is gone, Smith was confident that his spirit remains.
“His essence of his creative energy is out in another universe somewhere and he was able to express that here in his short life,” Smith said. “Wherever he is, I feel strongly and believe that he is doing his Taylor Hawkins as only he can. He’s doing that somewhere else and giving that love and life to everybody wherever he is now that he did here. So that gives me a little bit of comfort, but I miss the fuck out of him.”
Red Hot Chili Peppers will perform at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on Sunday, May 1st. The show is one of many stops in the band’s gigantic tour in support of Unlimited Love, their first record with guitarist John Frusciante since 2006. The LP debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and was the best-selling rock album since 2021. Check out our inaugural cover story on the legendary punk-funkers, and find tickets to all their upcoming shows via Ticketmaster.